Album Review / Audio: Deleted Scenes – Birdseed Shirt (What Delicate Recordings)


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MP3: Deleted Scenes – Fake IDs

Hailing from Olney, Maryland, Deleted Scenes’ second album, Birdseed Shirt, debuted just after the turn of the new year and seemed to be the talk of the town before it.  The latest “it” thing crowned by DC’s new media, Dan Scheuerman, Matt Dowling, Chris Scheffey and Brian Hospital lead off the album with distorted guitar and solid drums, developing the promising opener “Turn To Sand” into dirty buzzing alternative rock not dissimilar to Spoon’s foot stomping Gimme Fiction.  “Fake IDs” and “Take My Life” also drip wet with grungy reverb and catchy vocals that manage to flow one after the other while remaining unique amongst each other.

Unfortunately, the tracks that follow slowly digress into (for lack of a better descriptor) blah, but not in an irreparable way.  But in comparison to where the album began, Birdseed Shirt seems to lose momentum.  It is here that Deleted Scenes seem to make an uncomfortable transition, where they venture to play music of two different influences. They do so successfully in that they are undoubtedly well equipped to entertain either way. It is uncomfortable since I prefer the dense, heavier sounds that seem to lose their luster towards the end and seem to rob the album of its early energy.

What wanders out of their alt-rock is folkish-indie.  This is most apparent on closing track “Get Your Shit Together For The Holidays.”  While I enjoyed its movement, I tried hard not to think of the melodic baggage of Band of Horses, to whom I found them to be undeniably similar.  I found the sedated, ghostly progression and Ben Bridwell-like vocals to revert Deleted Scenes to a full-fledged indie-rock band: nothing more, nothing less.  And I am still unable to recognize a noteworthy element of psychedelia which has been noted by others.  

The album is promisingly set into motion with energy and a distinct, noisy introduction of tracks that ring upbeat and intricate; my expectations were high.  I was ill-prepared for the downtempo portions of the album that followed. I’d like to hear more of their idiosyncratic experiments with vibrating guitars and thick percussion and less of the other sounds they seem drawn to.

Label: What Delicate Recordings

Release Date: Jan 6, 2009

Track Listing:

  1. Turn to Sand
  2. Fake IDs
  3. Take My Life
  4. Mortal Sin
  5. Got God
  6. Ithaca
  7. City That Never Wakes Up
  8. One Long Country Song
  9. Deacons
  10. Another, Worse Cliche
  11. Get Your Shit Together for the Holidays

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11 Responses to “Album Review / Audio: Deleted Scenes – Birdseed Shirt (What Delicate Recordings)”

  1. Nolan Conaway says:

    As much of a fanboy of off-centre vocal styles as i am, i’m not quite feeling this.

    Seems a little bit like the U2 of vaguely folkish indie rock.

  2. lay-z says:

    bummer i get no sense of what this album is about. kinda superficial–it was fun, then it was less fun. and since when is melodicism considered baggage?

  3. Kate says:

    The album becomes blah at “Mortal Sin”? I’ve heard a lot of blah songs recently but that certainly isn’t one of them. Is this a record review, or a reaction to other reviews?

  4. Brian Hospital Loves Men says:

    This album is a perfect portrayal of an amazing band. I have seen them live a number of times, and it is a tough task to capture their sound and energy to a recording. This album does it justice…. One of the best recordings I have heard in years. J. Robbins captured it perfectly, and El Skeltor did a wonderful job pushing the sonic envelope with such a diverse collection of songs and emotions. Live they are rocking, but when they do slow it down it fits the tempo of the show, never slowing down to a long walk, and perfectly paced with the energy of the crowd. They have a wide sound, and this album gives us a taste of all their influences, from Burning Airlines, to Elliott Smith, to Meshuggah, to the dudes that their drummer Brian Hospital meets at Bear conventions and highway rest stops that scare him back into the closet.

  5. Greg Szeto says:

    This album is a very mixed bag for me as well, so Alexa’s review isn’t any sort of unfounded, knee-jerk reaction, but rather a frank and genuine assessment that actually aligns fairly closely with mine.

    To my ears, the opening tracks are strong (particularly “Turn to Sand” and the spectacular “Mortal Sin,” which might be my fave on the album). They definitely take a moodier turn in the latter parts of the album, to the detriment of the building momentum. In fact, I find little vitality in “Got God” and “Ithaca.”

    However, “One Long Country Song” drips of a less histrionic Okkervil River, in a good way, and hints at a great future for their moodier compositions. “Deacons” shows flashes of brilliance as well, and “Another, Worse Cliche” is proof-positive that they are heading towards a smoother, more organic synthesis of their two different personalities while maintaining a unique sound. Decent debut, and I’m optimistic about the next record, but hardly the savior of DC indie rock that is touted by many and not something I’d quite consider worthy of blow-up status.

    But then again, I was against Black Kids…and look what happened there…

    (Disclaimer: Deleted Scenes are infinitely better than Black Kids)

  6. Dave says:

    Greg, thanks for chiming in here.

    Glad you could clear up the question whether this was an actual record review or simply a perfunctory backlash response to previously written reviews.

  7. Greg Szeto says:

    Dave- Always happy to engage in dialogue.

    Going back through other reviews, ours is actually pretty similar to DCist’s and the Onion A/V Club’s.

  8. Greg Szeto says:

    Just as a post-script to this discussion:

    I dropped by Metro Gallery for a few songs of Deleted Scenes’ set and they sounded great.

  9. Robin Smith says:

    I was very happy with this album. It lived up to it’s hype. “Turn to sand”, “Fake IDs”, “Mortal Sin”, “Ithaca”, and “City that Never Wakes Up” are my favorites. Of course I’m not too into folk, and yet “Get your shit together for the holidays” has a very personal touch and evokes emotions that the other harder tracks simply cannot. I feel that this band’s brainchild track would be “City that never wakes up”. Well done gentlemen.


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